Saturday, April 27, 2013

I don't see it that way

I am afraid of things like rollercoasters, spiders, and people who don't know the merits of Q-tip.

I am not afraid of exploring the globe by myself.

Since more than a few people have commented on my bravery in regards to this trip, I wanted to take the time to explain how I feel about this.

I'm not brave; not even close. To me, bravery lives in a firefighter, an high-altitude skier, a cancer survivor. The only time I feel brave is when I muster a moment of courage to crush the life out of a spider that has rudely invaded my apartment. Feeling brave while exploring a city in a foreign country would never even occur to me.

Truth be told, the only moment of  even slight hesitation I had came in the early morning hours while walking through the Munich airport during my layover. "Holy shit what am I doing?" At that point it was too late to turn back, nor did I want to. I silenced my tiny anxieties and allowed myself to feel what it was like to be back out in the world again. And then I paid for my croissant in dollars because my hunger trumped my search for foreign currency.

Is the fact that I consider myself to be a wise traveler the reason for feeling so comfortable and unafraid? Perhaps that's part of it. What I really think is that I just wasn't born with that gene. I wasn't born with the genetics of geographical complacency. And if I was, my parents did one heck of a job naturally suppressing it.     
My sense of independence has always been strong; blame that on being an only child or simply just the person I grew into. Yes, I've lived for an extended time in Asia, but even then it's not like I looked at what I was doing as brave. I was doing what I wanted to do. I was furthering my life by seeing the world: expanding my horizons by listening to the stories of others, becoming stronger by being separated from the people I loved the most, finding new people to love.

If it is not in you to break away from your comfort zone, let me do it for you. Your interest and your input keeps me connected, and for that I am grateful. 

Dear Everyone,

Now that I am back in the comfort of my own home, in my own country, I want to thank you all for reading and following along. I've heard the worlds "I followed your blog" more times than I expected since being back. What a comforting thing to be by yourself exploring the world yet know you are connected to a whole host of friends and family at home.
I am currently enrolled in an online writing course so I am hoping that keeps my writing muscle toned and I can continue to provide you with new posts!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Around the world and back

I arrived back in New Jersey yesterday.
My soul is rejuvenated and my body is exhausted; I slept for over 12 hours last night.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Although my fantastic voyage is complete, I'd like to keep this blog going; there are so many more stories to share.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sunny square

Sunny square from StaciMagnolia on Vimeo.

Wednesday morning

Wednesday morning from StaciMagnolia on Vimeo.

On differences

It's a rainy Wednesday morning here in Lisbon do I decided to take an extended breakfast and do some writing.

I've been trying to jot down some notes on things I notice since being away from the US.
This will come as no surprise to anyone who has visited Europe or even knows anything about the culture. The dining experience is so much more relaxed. In certain ways, I love this. There is not the pressure to get up and leave as soon as you're finished eating for fear that your server will begin harboring hostility because he/she can't turnover their table quick enough.
I've rarely been checked on during my meal, either. Perhaps just once but I think this is because I'm obviously foreign and maybe they know my 'standards' are different.
Something I'm not so keen on: the lack of flowing water. At home, I drink a lot of water. Water, coffee and wine is pretty much ALL I drink. Here, there is no obligatory water glass on the table and if you want some, you have to pay. If paying for water helps a struggling economy, ok, I get it.
In public I don't think I've seen one water fountain, either. So it's not like I could fill up my bottle if I was exploring and thirsty. Is America obsessed with hydration? In certain ways I definitely think yes. Not a bad thing to be obsessed with but clearly other people make out just fine without that compulsion.

If English is your first language, consider yourself very lucky. Most people I've met on my travels, from all realms and statuses, are some level of bi-lingual.
It's amazing, really. Having taught the language, I know how difficult it is to learn, let alone become even a somewhat fluent speaker. This never fails to impress me about the people of other nations. As often as possible, I have been asking people if they speak English before speaking to them, my own brand of politeness and avoidance of assumption. But, someone within the last few days told me that English is a world language. It struck me as curious, yet outstandingly true, to hear this from someone whom was foreign. Because think about it, an Italian traveling in Turkey is going to speak what language to his hotel employees? I've heard people, with differing accents on each side of the conversation, both using English.

On machines for transit tickets and ATMS, when you need to select English as your language, you know what flag it shows? The Union Jack. In Turkey and here in Portugal that was the way. As open-minded and multicultural as I'd like to consider myself this still surprised me. Shame on me to think it would have been the American flag.

One last thing for you to ponder -- apparently in some countries flushing your toilet paper is not the norm......